An avalanche warning is in place for the Southern Lakes region, with people being advised to avoid mountains near Queenstown and Wanaka.

The New Zealand Avalanche Advisory has issued a level four or "high" avalanche danger forecast for Queenstown, with Wanaka given a level three or "considerable" risk of avalanche.

A level four on the avalanche danger scale means conditions are very dangerous, and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

The scale runs to level five, which is an extreme risk of avalanche.

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Tongariro, Taranaki, Arthur's Pass, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Fiordland all also have level three warnings, where mountains should be avoided unless people have "expert avalanche skills".